With the launch of MM cosmetics last week, SiddySays got the chance to sit down and discuss the story of Halal makeup with Masarrat Misbah. We delved into the technical aspect to get a clearer picture of what exactly is this line of makeup and what sets it apart from the products readily available.
Give us a brief outline of what Halal makeup is.
Halal makeup has been around for some time but is gradually gaining popularity… What sets these products apart from the rest are its ethical properties, hence making it lawful to use for Muslims.
How do you classify the makeup as Halal? Is there any other difference that sets it apart from the rest?
The producers refrain from using alcohol, animal-derived ingredients, harsh chemicals in the makeup products as well as animal testing. Moreover, these halal products are also free of parabens. These are preservatives, commonly used, in cosmetics that lead to estrogen disruption: it is linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. In short, halal makeup is pure and hygienically manufactured making it safe for us as well as the environment.
If not parabens, is there another preservative used instead for your line of makeup?
We have avoided using any type of preservative in our products, based on research, that are considered to be an imminent health hazard. The results of paraben and lead can be very harmful. In this situation, the shelf life of the product is almost halved: for example, while a regular foundation may be used for up to two years, our product may be used for a year if stored in a cool dry place.
Is there a process to be followed to obtain the Halal certification by a certain body?
There is a very long and detailed procedure done by a certifying body before claiming the products to be halal (in this case Helalder a Turkish certifying body). There are four stages that must be assessed and each can take up to two years. From the preparation stage, processing stage, storage stage and the last transportation stage, each must follow and pass a strict standard. Raw materials, additives, components and production processes have to be carried out under the optimum conditions. For example products at any stage must not be in contact with any material forbidden by Islamic rules. Upon clearing these stages, a seal certifying the product as halal is issued. The same procedures are carried out for all industries by the Halal certifying bodies.
What inspired you to start developing the MM Gala Cosmetics – the Halal makeup line?
I have spent over 35 years working in this industry.With the experience and knowledge I gained over these years, I wanted to produce a line that was based solely on the principals that were close to my heart. The strong, empowered women I have come across in Pakistan, striving to do something for their lives and our country, have forever been my inspiration. I wanted to contribute something to our nation based on what I was best at. The line ticks off the entire criterion to be Halal certified and is a product of an intense two-year long research to try to cater to the specific needs of the local market. Our line ticks off the entire criterion to be Halal certified and is a product of an intense two-year long research to try to cater to the specific needs of the local market.
Do you see a potential and sizeable market in Pakistan?
My products are targeted towards the masses as well as the educated– the people who are aware of hazardous chemicals and unethical practices as well as those who adhere to the guidelines set out in the Quran. The public might consider these products to be a type of religious propaganda, but I can assure you it is not. Due to the increased public awareness, there are health-conscious people too who are converting to using our Halal makeup over the widely stocked regular brands.
What is your view on competition with foreign brands and the range of products as well as colours they have to offer?
I know that we will be facing fierce competition from international brands that have instilled a firm brand loyalty within the local customers over the years. However, what sets us apart is that we have developed our products while focussing primarily on what adapts best to Asian skins and climate – a definite first in Pakistan. We have emphasized on the textures, colours, pigments and formulation keeping that in mind.
What about competition from other global Halal makeup brands?
MM Makeup is on par with not only international trends, but also quality standards. I made this range specifically for the women of Pakistan to have a range that is made for their needs – this is just the beginning and I believe the range can take on the competition.
Prices are one of the predominant factors when it comes to a choice of product – how does your price compare to that of competitors?
We have kept our prices very affordable, keeping in mind the competition as well as the buying power of the end user. We feel that makeup is a source of confidence for the woman wearing it and that should not be restricted in any way. Everyone should be allowed to explore their femininity, play around with colours, and adorn themselves with high quality makeup without breaking the bank.
Affordability is key to our pricing strategy for Masarrat Makeup it allows us to cater to a wider audience, who is particularly conscious of the ingredients used in the makeup. We are committed to women of Pakistan and will always provide high quality make up that is tailored for their skin tone and climate.
How would you convince a person to change from using the regular makeup brands to your Halal brand? Why should someone make that switch?
Other than Islamic guidelines, I would work on increasing the public awareness concerning the detrimental effects of chemicals found in cosmetics these days. A subsequent switch is definitely more probable based on how aware the customers are of the product being bought. I would also shed light on animal testing and the unethical practices followed to produce cosmetics as well as the effect on the environment.
Since these products are being targeted to a certain niche audience, how easy is it to buy them?
You can order then online at masarratmakeup.com and avail the cash on delivery service all over Pakistan and at any Depilex Salon nationwide MM Make Up will soon be available at retail outlets as well. By visiting one of our salons you can also try out the products before deciding on whether you want to opt for it.
As the products have been available publicly, how has the feedback been in general?
In one word – fantastic!
Would you consider diversifying the risk and expanding operations to other beauty products?
Expansion is definitely in the pipeline – both in terms of markets where Masarrat Makeup will be available at and our product range.
By Eimaan Jawwad